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How to Get the Most out of Your Online Summer Course

A few short years ago, taking a live academic course required one to be physically present to attend. Yet this has all changed with the advent of dedicated online meeting software. One of the obvious benefits of taking online courses nowadays is that it lets the learner study an academic course wherever, whenever, and however they find it convenient. However convenience is not the only benefit to taking an online academic course, and there are some novel challenges associated with this educational medium to consider as well. The following article shares tips and tricks to help you maximize the benefits and minimize any drawbacks of your online summer course, so you can get the most value out of your experience.

Remember It’s a Real Course

Just because you take a course virtually doesn’t mean that it is any less real. Just like an in-person course, how actively you participate and engage with assignments will impact how much you learn and the quality of any recommendation letters you receive. With this in mind, you should tackle an online course with the seriousness it deserves. This will include showing up on time every class if not five minutes early (believe me this will impress your instructor and is something he will commend you for in your recommendation). It also helps you increase your learning effectiveness, concentration, and performance. And of course be sure to complete all assignments on time and to the best of your ability. All students need practice to master new material, and the best time to put in that work is during your course.

Choose the Right Level

Make sure the course you choose is at an appropriate level for you. If a course is too easy you will not get much out of it. Moreover, if you use the course as evidence of extracurricular activities for college applications, an astute reviewer will note the disparity between the course’s aims and your ability, and downgrade your assessment. On the same token, if the course is too hard you will likewise not get much out of it, feel frustrated, and perform below your potential. Again this situation would cast you poorly on a college application.

If you find yourself in a class mismatched with your abilities, inquire about the possibility of transferring to a more appropriate level. Better still, inquire with the summer school about whether this will be possible before you enroll. Another option to consider is to pause your class to review preparatory materials and then join another cohort later in the summer or postpone your class until the following year.

Manage Your Time

Taking online academic courses will require strong time management skills. Whether you meet daily or weekly, you will have regular tasks to complete outside of class, including homework, writing assignments, and group projects. To manage your time effectively you will need proper planning. A learner needs to have a schedule of what and when they are expected to complete an assigned task and to reserve a sufficient portion of their days to get it done. Planning ahead helps you stay on top of the course material, helps you avoid procrastination, and removes stress and anxiety. To this end, you can create a calendar that highlights all the assignment due dates, and schedule times to complete them to avoid having a last-minute rush.

Be Accountable (to Yourself)

Accountability will give you a clear measure of success. It also helps you stay proactive and organized and boosts your conscientiousness – a great recipe to make the most out of your online summer course. Academic accountability can be achieved by setting concrete goals at the beginning of your online summer course, and create actionable plans to achieve them. However, be sure that he goals you set are concrete but achievable.

Undertaking regular evaluations can help measure your progress and make adjustments as needed. The evaluation can be done weekly or bi-weekly. The best way to get accurate results from these progress evaluations is with the help of someone else. An outside observer is best at giving you honest feedback with an aim of assisting you to excel in your online summer course. They will also provide useful social pressure to help push you to go the extra mile needed to achieve your goals if you are falling behind. Having someone monitor your work will enhance your accountability which will play a crucial role in helping you get the most out of your online academic course.

Prepare Your Equipment

Getting your needed resources ahead is a sign of your commitment to your online course. So before you start ensure that you have everything you need. This might include a desktop computer or laptop (and possibly a backup just in case), a working webcam and microphone, books, notepads, multicolor pens, and dependable high-speed internet. Don’t forget to download and test any required software and apps. This will help you keep up with the course and avoid technical issues becoming a distraction. Moreover, if you ever do have a technical problem but are able to solve it immediately because you were prepared, this will reflect positively on you any letters of recommendation you receive.


Contrary to popular belief, multitasking is a great enemy of efficiency. Multitasking distracts your focus and reduces your productivity. Rather than trying to do multiple things at once, it’s better to set aside time exclusively for a single work-related task, and also to reserve time where you will only play. Single-tasking allows the learner to have undivided attention on the task at hand. This helps improve performance and enhance academic grades, as dedicated focus is required for mastering novel concepts. These learning strategies translate to getting the most out of your online academic course.

Have a Well-Organized Working Space

When undertaking online summer courses, ensure that you have a devoted space that is conducive to studying. First of all, it is important to be comfortable while you are studying. Choosing the workspace is determined by how best the environment works for you. It can be at your kitchen table, bedroom desk, home office, public library, or even a corner table at a local coffee bar. Assess the different working spaces available to you and see which one works best. When choosing this workspace, ensure it is sufficiently quiet, has sufficient light, and will allow you to work without interruption. As mentioned earlier, you should also assess whether the location has fast, dependable internet to facilitate seamless online study. 

Also, ensure that your workspace is well-organized and arranged and that you know where key resources are, and that they are easily accessible. These resources include files, books assignment, and well-displayed calendars and timetables. Adding a board for sticking reminders to help you remember pending tasks and assignments. Other things to include are a comfortable seat, needed books, pens, scratch paper and resources, working speakers, or a pair of clear headphones to listen to your lectures. Finally, keep this space neat and tidy. When your working environment is organized it allows you to focus better and be more organized. The key to a productive workspace is that it should be peaceful, calm, and organized. Ideally, it’s a quiet room where you can be alone and not disturbed for the duration of your classes.

Be Distractions Free

Our daily lives are characterized by quite a number of distractions and drain on our attention. These include Netflix, social media, social interactions, TV Programs, and many others. Giving in to these distractions interrupts your study plan. It further derails your study progress and productivity. The best way to get the most value out of your online summer course is to create an environment free from these distractions to the best of your ability.

Some distractions can simply be avoided such as social media, Youtube, Netflix, or some social interactions. You can for instance turn off push notifications from apps on your phone, turn it to silent mode, or turn it off altogether when it is time to study. Another trick is to refrain from navigating to Youtube or logging in to Netflix from your work computer. If you make it the rule that you don’t do that while on ‘that’ computer, the temptation will be easier to avoid. In the event, you face some unavoidable distractions, It goes without saying that you should never attempt to watch a TV show or Youtube video, or listen to a podcast while you are studying. Ensure you also let your family know that you are not to be disturbed during your course. All of this calls for high levels of self-discipline to achieve. Don’t worry if you are not perfect right away, this is a skill that needs practice.

Know How You Learn Best

As a student, it is important to become self-aware of your own psychology and figure out the best practices that facilitate your learning. However, what these specific learning practices are is different for everyone. For instance, if you’re an early morning person, then morning is the best time to study. Commit to waking up early and adhering to it. For the night owls, while it is ok to study in the evening if that truly is your best time, you will still need to ensure that you go to bed at an early enough hour to burn the midnight oil to ensure the tasks scheduled are completed on time.

There are four common learning styles, and learners should identify which one works best for them. These four learning styles are;

  • Visual Learning

When information is given to visual learners in a graphic manner, such as with arrows, charts, graphs, symbols, and more, they are better able to assimilate it. Visual learners benefit from clear representations of knowledge hierarchy, much like how designers employ visual hierarchy to emphasize particular design components.

  • Auditory Learning

Auditory learners, often known as "aural" learners, prefer to listen to information that is said to them. These students may prefer reading aloud to themselves and do well in groups where vocal participation is present.

  • Reading & Writing

Reading & Writing learners concentrate on the written word. They achieve success with written material on worksheets, presentations, and other materials that contain a lot of text. These students take notes and perform well when they can refer to written material.

  • Kinesthetic Learning

Kinesthetic learners are hands-on and flourish when using all of their senses throughout the coursework, taking on a physically active role. These students typically perform well in scientific investigations such as lab work and incorporate body movement and physical interaction to solidify concepts in their minds.

A learner should self-assess what their the best learning style is, and seek out materials that cater to it to get the most value out of their online summer course.

Participate Actively

Participation is crucial when taking an online course, just like it is in a traditional classroom. To start with, you must first make sure that you attend every class. Next, when in class make comments, post on the online discussion board, ask your instructor questions, and discuss points with your classmates. By actively engaging with the course you will both increase your understanding and raise your overall performance. Also, it helps your instructor to better assess your learning progress and offer suggestions about how to accelerate it. Note that if you face a difficulty when taking an online course without consulting your instructor, they will likely assume you are doing OK. So be sure to ask your instructor directly in class, via the class chat system, by using provided email, or any other means offered. The important thing is that you reach out.

Being an active participant in the class helps you gain more understanding, and increases your interaction with other students, making it easier to make friends. The overall result is that you will get more out of your academic courses.

Create a Network 

On a virtual course, it can be tempting to keep things impersonal, but if you don’t use this opportunity to make new friends with your classmates you are missing out. You can start by memorizing the other students’ names, learning details about them, getting their contact details, and setting up a time to study together as a group. In fact, you should aim to be working in collaboration with the other students and your instructors as much as possible. It allows you as to interact and work with each other to complete projects and participate in group discussions, and oftentimes your peers will have a great insight or way of viewing the material that helps it all make sense.

Moreover, think about finding one or more study partners. To create your network, introduce yourself to the class and participate in discussions. Working in groups will provide you with fresh perspectives on challenging ideas, the drive to produce better outcomes, and assistance with finishing your online tasks more quickly by evaluating what you have learned. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions. Furthermore, the network you created can be a valuable resource when it comes to exam preparations and getting assignment-related feedback. Learning interactively will help you progress faster and further on the course. Together, you can help one another during the online learning experience by sharing your study routines and notes with your virtual peers. And of course, be sure to keep in contact with your new friends after the class finishes to maintain these networks. Here social media and email is your friend.

Focus on What You Like about Your Course

Naturally, it’s better to choose the perfect course before you enroll. But if things aren’t perfect, focus on the positive aspects of your course and what you like about it. Studies have shown that your learning benefits when you focus on the positive. Are there aspects of your course that, though perhaps not immediately practicable, will be useful for other goals that you have? Focus on these and make the best of the situation. This mindset will ensure your online summer course provides you with the most value possible.

 Ask for Help

In case you are having issues keeping up with the course, it’s okay to ask for help. On an online course, it can be difficult for your instructor to tell by just your facial expressions and reactions whether you are understanding their lecture. Keep in mind that whenever you have a question, there are likely to be several other students who have the same question and are hoping that someone else will ask it, and when you do they will be grateful. So don’t be afraid to speak up and ask your questions, either in the chat function or directly on the screen.

Remember o Have Fun!

The decision to enroll in an online summer course is often academic. But don’t forget that you should remember to have fun while you are learning to too. When you have fun not only does it improve motivation, but also your performance. When you are having fun, you are able to take in more of what you are being taught, and it eliminates boredom and getting distracted. The best way to stay active and vibrant during an online summer course is to ensure you are having fun.

Review and Reflect

Finally, set aside some time to review and reflect on your learning experience. Take note of what you have learned and what you have struggled with, and do so at regular intervals. Then focus on these points in your planned revision sessions. Reviewing what you have already learned at regular intervals will help you remember information and make it easier for you to comprehend what you are learning. You can make your own note cards from your important notes, then test yourself on the course's central points.

In Summary

Learning how to study well online is an essential skill for the 21st century, and there’s no better time to start honing this skill than right now. Online summer courses offer a flexible and convenient way to continue your education and have fun. By following these tips, you can get the most out of your online course, stay motivated, and achieve your academic goals. Furthermore, much of the tips and tricks discussed here can be applied to your in-person classes as well. With the right approach, an online summer course can be a rewarding and enriching experience that better prepares you for college and beyond.


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